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Lowery’s proposition is that in the long term, musicians and songwriters will gain more than they lose in the short term. YouTube and Pandora offer a fraction of the royalties returned by sites such as Spotify (which isn’t very much anyway), and the free tier drives down the price. Therefore, doing what you can to sabotage the ad-supported sites is the ethical thing to do.“In the fight for fair pay, artists are not at war with the internet or really even the streaming services, we are at war with the online advertising industry,” Lowery explained.How much of a hit would artists take if every ad-supported music streamer went dark? Less than you think, Lowery suggests. The removal of Spotify’s free tier would see their payments drop only 16 per cent.“But let's not get too distracted by that because the real crime is that YouTube pays so little it’s a joke,” he argues. “YouTube revenue is not gonna save artists and or the industry at large. I will barely miss it. And YouTube is clearly inhibiting the growth of subscription services that pay higher revenues.”

Spotify has argued that if the free tier disappears, people will simply steal music. But that overlooks two factors: people pay for convenience, and a good streaming site saves you a lot of time and trouble. And the cost of Doing The Right Thing is pretty low; a tenner a month barely buys two pints of beer in London. Nor is the idea of “ethical shopping” radical or new. Much is made of the power of consumers boycotting unethical businesses, but it’s slightly hypocritical to boycott arms dealers or oil companies or big tobacco, but then shun licensed music sources which pay musicians.The music industry traditionally left songwriters and musicians last when it came to money, but the new tech oligarchs offer them even less. Pandora and YouTube are very different animals, but both have benefited from weak copyright law, albeit in very different ways.Pandora takes advantage of the uniquely socialist system of a state-administered compulsory collective licence, with US Courts setting the price of music. Songwriters simply can’t opt out. It’s a weird hangover from a consent decree on performing rights societies. ASCAP, the US equivalent of the PRS, can’t refuse a licence to a broadcaster, while the broadcaster is only obliged to enter into negotiations. In this case, the rights-holder is denied the most fundamentally property-like aspect of a property right: excludability.YouTube also benefits from a lack of excludability. As we explained here, YouTube can use a quirk in the DMCA to avoid having to put a stop to an unlicensed supply chain. The odds are stacked against anyone trying to enforce the legal supply chain. As a consequence of the DMCA loophole, YouTube generates about $1 per user, while Spotify generates $18.

In neither situation can the musician enforce their copyright cheaply and effectively and get on with making music. The deck is stacked in favour of the middleman using the music. The all-powerful middleman today is Big Tech. But changing copyright in favour of the little guy takes time, and isn't easy, especially when Facebook, Google and others have grown so wealthy from it and lobby hard against it.Lowery thinks Google's dependence on data-mining and insipid copyright makes it uniquely “fragile”, to borrow Taleb’s usage, and vulnerable to disruption. A mass consumer revolt against privacy invasions, personal data mining, and unethical behaviour could leave Google vulnerable.“My 60:40 bet is they are not nimble enough to do so without a serious hit to their revenue.”But the internet isn’t about Google, or about adtech, he says. The internet couldn’t care less about Google.Thomas Wengierow, who is 47 and originally from Lithuania – from whence he returned to attend court today – has admitted to emailing himself copies of customer's personal details from Tesco's database while working at Tesco's Baird Avenue centre in Dundee.Wengierow will be sentenced next on the 20 May. Sheriff Lorna Drummond QC deferred sentencing to receive social work background reports on Wengierow, so the court could consider a community-based sentence instead of prison. LG has conducted a developer day to interest gadget-makers in developing third-party modules for its LEGO-like G5 smartphone.

When we first set eyes on the G5 we called for LG to enable a proper ecosystem for the device. LG officials The Register spoke to at the phone's Australian launch today said an effort to do so is now well and truly under way.LG did not wish to disclose details discussed at the developer event, but did reveal that peripheral proposals included a snap-in projector it is hoped will relieve sales people of needing a laptop to deliver presentations. A credit card reader has also been discussed and monster batteries have been raised.LG's pitched the G5 squarely at consumers, but officials we spoke to today are keenly aware of the phone's potential in business, as a modular phone is seen as a way to provide specialist functionality for phones used in niche applications. Organisations that aren't quite willing to sign up for phones-as-a-service from carriers or specialists and want the ability to do some repairs or upgrades are also on the company's mind.In Australia, the phone comes with an offer that will interest individuals and businesses alike: a free replacement screen if the display is accidentally broken in the first six months after purchase. The offer only applies for phones bought for the next few months, but LG sees it as an extension of the phone's modular concept.

 

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